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Constructs

Constructs are made, not born. Some are programmed by their creators to follow a simple set of instructions, while others are imbued with sentience and capable of independent thought. Golems are the iconic constructs. Many creatures native to the outer plane of Mechanus, such as modrons, are constructs shaped from the raw material of the plane by the will of more powerful creatures.

All Constructs

Constructs are programmed opponents designed to follow a preset routine for their entire existence, with little to no variation. While most functioning constructs will follow their original programmer’s orders to the letter, sometimes those orders can be rather open-ended or undefined.

If a creator programs their golem to “guard this passage and let none pass,” it can be dangerous to assume that there are no base-level instructions at work to cover situations other than the strictest commands. We might wave this away by assuming that the magic needed to create the construct includes things like walking, jumping, and punching. Still, it might be a good idea to list the limitations of each construct explicitly to better judge the attempts by the party to deal with the challenge.

Use bludgeoning weapons against brittle, bony, or fragile opponents.

  • Use slashing weapons against humanoids, beasts, and other mortal foes.
  • Use ranged weapons against fast or distant attackers.
  • Use a special sense magic ability to isolate and target spellcasters or magically invisible enemies.

You can also play it fast and loose. If the party comes up with a particularly clever plan, simply allow the construct to act in a confused or looped manner and alter the checks needed to fight or circumvent it.

Some might tie up the players with grappling while others attack weaker targets. Imagine being grabbed by a golem, slammed to the ground in a prone position, and then stomped on, with advantage! Programmed Responses

Encounters with programmed constructs may allow for some interesting combinations of tactics as well. Provide instructions for multiple constructs to fight in unison or to combine powers in unique ways which multiply the threat to the party. Special rules do exist for death by massive damage.

Breath weapons can be used in unison against particularly strong individuals. Imagine multiple iron golems belching forth clouds of flammable gas and following up with a finger snap of their flint-infused gauntlets! This tactic allows them to heal while their enemies are barbequed.

Basic constructs are almost always stronger and larger than their opponents, and this alone gives them a tremendous advantage. But don’t stop there; consider adding a grappling ability for constructs that rely on melee attacks. This can be particularly useful when using multiple constructs.

Constructs with weaknesses should be programmed to avoid things that expose them to greater harm. They should immediately remove themselves from such situations, preferring easier targets. You can check stat blocks to determine vulnerabilities to utilize.

How Do Constructs Learn to Fight?

Nefarious wizards have long imbued golems and other constructs with a programmed semblance of life. But where do their anger and combat abilities come from? One possibility is these creations being imbued with the spirits of fallen warriors, possibly even tied to the type of golem; given these assumptions, it’s not hard to imagine a stone golem fueled by the soul of a fallen dwarven hero. Or an iron golem containing the spirit of an armor-clad knight.

Adding this flavor and a means for the characters to discover it can make memorable moments but might also lead to adventures for their own sake.

Side quests might include discovering the plight of a hero from a distraught relative, who sends the players on their way to hunt down a secretive wizard’s tower with vengeance as their motivation. Perhaps they then discover the wizard has taken his plans to another level and is actively luring warriors to their demise to take advantage of their fleeting spirits in his experiments.